Don't Mail It

One day Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, came to him with a wrathful letter written to a Major-General who had accused him of favoritism. Stanton read Lincoln the letter which was full of sharp retorts and the President told him it was a good letter that the general deserved.

While Stanton, much gratified, was folding up the letter and putting it into its envelope, the President asked him, “What are you going to do with it now?”

“Why, send it, of course,” replied Stanton, looking blank.

“Don’t do it,” said Lincoln.

“But you said it was just what he deserved,” demurred the Secretary.

“Yes, I believe he does deserve it, but you don’t want to send such a letter as that. Put it in the stove! That’s the way I do when I have written a letter while I am mad. It is a good letter, and you have had a good time writing it, and you feel better, don’t you? It has done you good and answered its purpose. Now burn it!”

Source: The Works of Abraham Lincoln, John H. Clifford and Marion M. Miller

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